Bad Laws Cause Homeless Crisis

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Parts of San Francisco resemble the poorest slums in the world — even though the city is one of the richest in America.

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Encampments of street people are everywhere. Some pitch tents. Others defecate on the sidewalk. Some are mentally ill and harass people.

John Stossel asks: “why does such a rich city have a huge problem with homelessness?”

One reason in that the city fails to enforce even basic laws against bad behavior.

The Daily Wire’s Colton Haas filmed one woman who says: “Police don’t do anything about it. They’ll get somebody for drinking a beer but they’ll walk right past people using a needle.”

Many crimes, from shoplifting to car break-ins, are often ignored in San Francisco. An average of 85 cars are broken into every day in the city. Yet police make arrests in less than 2 percent of car break-ins.

Even some street people complain about the behavior of crazy and violent homeless people. “They run around and they shout at themselves … They make it bad for people like us that hang out with a sign,” one man who usually sleeps on the street told us.

Since store owners can’t rely on city cops to deal with the masses of homeless, some hire private police to patrol around their stores. Private police are effective, and there used to be hundreds. But then the city’s police union complained, and now there are fewer than 10 left.

Stossel notes that another reason for the city’s homeless problem is that the city offers relatively generous benefits: free shelter, train tickets, and $70/month in cash. That’s in addition to food stamps people can already get.

San Francisco’s politicians have promised to fix the homeless problem for decades.

In 1982, then-mayor Dianne Feinstein bragged about creating “A thousands units right here in the Tenderloin” for the homeless.
In 2002, mayor Willie Brown said “you gotta do something about it.”
In 2008, mayor Gavin Newsom said, “our combined efforts … have already moved 6,860 human beings off the street.”
In 2018, San Francisco’s mayor was still calling for more money. San Francisco also passed a big new tax on employers to raise money.

But so far, the extra funding hasn’t worked. The number of street people has grown most every year.

One reason is that rents in San Francisco are the highest in the nation.

Laura Foote is an activist who runs the non-profit “YIMBY” — or “Yes In My Backyard.” She tries to convince people to allow more housing. But even in liberal San Francisco, many people don’t want that.

“I would hate it. I would hate it,” one woman told John Stossel.

“I think it’d be really congested,” said another.

Developers complain the city severely limits them.

“Let me build,” says developer John Dennis. He spent years trying to get permission to replace a graffiti-covered, long-defunct meat-packing plant with nice new apartments.

He eventually got permission to develop the new building will house 60 people, but it took 4 years.

“And all that time, we’re paying property taxes and we’re paying for maintenance of the building,” Dennis tells Stossel.

“What’s your next project in San Francisco?” Stossel asks.

“No more projects in San Francisco,” Dennis replies. “I’m done. I’ll never do another project here.”

Stossel points out the hypocrisy of the situation: “People in San Francisco often claim to be all about helping the poor. But their policies make life tougher for the poor.”